This Is How To Practice Self Care On A Family Vacation

As I sit in front of my laptop right now, I am looking over a blue lake and sharp green hills in Lake Como, Italy. I am on vacation with my family.

So far, it has been an amazing trip.

We have really enjoyed our time together and our adventures.

Family vacations used to be a lot harder for me.

I am an introvert, and I need a lot of alone time. Time to think, time to breathe. Time to let my mind wander.

I used to try to push my introversion aside when I was on vacation. I felt that I had to spend every moment of every day with my family. That I had to do what everyone else wanted to do, when everyone else wanted to do it.

I would be okay for the first day, or the first few days. But then all that pent up stimulation and exposure would build until it reached a breaking point. I would then explode like a volcano, pouring the burning hot lava of overstimulation all over my family. And they had no idea what they did wrong.

When in fact, they did nothing wrong. It was me.

But over time, I learned to practice self care while on vacation.

I realized that self care means that I am a more balanced, happier wife, mother, daughter, and sister.

And its even more important to maintain my own balance when I am spending extended time with family that I love.

Here are three things that I do on vacation to help me carve out some much needed introvert time.

Exercise Every Day (I do it early)

This one sounded crazy to me when a friend first suggested it. I am an early morning exerciser. But why would I get up early on vacation? A close friend told me she got up every morning of family vacation, before her husband and kids woke up. She swore by it. So I tried it. And I was hooked.

So now, every morning that we are on vacation, I get up early. I lay my clothes out in the bathroom the night before so I don’t wake anyone up. And I go for a run or a long walk. I get to know my surroundings a bit. I listen to podcasts or music, or sometimes the sounds in my own head. The physical activity also helps smooth over any anxiety that comes with traveling.

This morning I got to walk along a Greenway in Lake Como, Italy. Past 400 year old churches, and gardens overflowing with tomatoes and zucchini. I got my heart pumping as the trail went straight up, and then flattened out again. And by the time I finished, my family was still snoring in the hotel room.

I find this practice to be immensely restorative. I get back to the room and no one is the wiser, except for me. I have had time to start the day on my own terms. And then I am happy and excited to take part in our activities together.

Journal Or Do A Thought Download Every Day

Writing continues to be one of my favorite ways of processing thoughts. I find that even if I am not working on a story or my book, I need to write to make sense of my mind. I used to feel that I needed to do this alone. And in a perfect world, I do. But on a family vacation, done is better than perfect.

So now I always bring a notebook with me. I don’t know exactly when I will find the time during the day, but if you look for it, there is always a little bit. While the kids are in the pool. The other day, I wrote while we were on the train from Zurich, Switzerland to Lake Como, Italy.

A few minutes to write anything that I want. To write through a feeling that is nagging at me that I can’t quite uncover. To write down a story idea. Time to organize my mind.

My husband and kids used to ask what I was doing and I felt self conscious. But one day I simply said, “I’m writing.” And they shrugged, satisfied with the answer.

It can be private and done right in front of them.

Find Time To Read Every Day

This is another way I am able to let my mind wander, to find some alone space in a crowd. This is another one where I plan ahead a little bit to make this one a success.

I love real, paper books. But on vacation, I know reading on my kindle or ipad is going to be easier and more successful. I can bring 10 books on vacation if I want, no issues with luggage space. So I download at least a few books before we leave. Just in case. And I know that they are always with me. So again, if I find a few minutes.

In Zurich I pulled my ipad out on the tram ride back to the hotel. The kids were sitting right next to me. Absorbing all the sights and the sounds of the German language around us. I read a few pages until it was time to get off. And immediately felt better.

Exercising can take a little more time, but journaling and reading can be for a few minutes each. When you feel that you are reaching your boiling point. You can pull out your book or notebook and take a few minutes to yourself.

The key for me was to stop feeling self conscious about doing these activities. For needing these activities in the middle of a busy day. In some ways, I felt ashamed of being introverted. As if a fundamental part of my personality could be different when I am in a different location. But I have come to accept that it is not the case. And having healthy boundaries around my own needs has allowed me to be more giving to the people around me.

Because I am who I am. And my family loves me for it. Introversion and all.

Neuroscience. Wall Street. C-Suite. Parent. Recovering Nervous Nelly.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store